Dear sisters and brothers in Christ:
On August 1, 2022, I wrote the following letter to our priests and pastoral administrators following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Because of its importance, I now wish to share that letter with you as follows below:
August 1, 2022
Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Reverend and dear Fathers; dear Pastoral Administrators:
In my communication to you and the faithful of the Diocese on June 24, 2022, on the occasion of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, I asked that “all our parishes and diocesan charitable agencies renew and expand their services to women and children so that mothers can bring their children into this world with peace and tranquility and always knowing they are never abandoned.” It is this same topic which causes me to write to you today; specifically, your help in ensuring that mothers in need in all twelve counties of our Diocese see the Church as a place they can turn to for support and assistance.
Feeling helplessly alone at a time of personal crisis can be overwhelming. As we know, a woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant often faces many challenges. What should normally be experienced as a joyful, new beginning is instead a time of immense fear, anxiety, and confusion. She may fear losing her job or housing, seeing her career or educational goals disappearing, being abandoned by the father of the child, harsh judgment from her friends and family, and more.
As Catholics, we naturally feel compelled by our faith in Jesus Christ to reach out to our sisters who may be facing any number or all of these challenges, at the same time. If we take a moment to place ourselves in our sisters’ situation, we must ask ourselves, where would we turn to find help? In the secular media, the Catholic Church is often portrayed as merely anti-abortion, offering no tangible help.
The good news is that help is often readily available from many compassionate and dedicated people and organizations. But are we effective at communicating that help directly to women in desperate situations? Our parishioners must know the places or resources available to recommend if they encounter a pregnant or parenting woman in need of help, and any mother in need should see and find in our parishes compassionate support and accompaniment.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and our Diocese have joined together in a nationwide effort called Walking with Moms in Need. For this initiative, the USCCB has provided educational, pastoral, prayer, and action-oriented resources to help parishes come alongside and accompany pregnant and parenting mothers facing difficulties.
Walking with Moms in Need is a response to Pope Francis’ repeated challenge to go to the margins and bring hope and help to those in need. Every region is different, every community is unique, and every parish is one-of-a-kind; however, each of our parishes is positioned to identify the local pregnancy help resources that are currently available and to recognize potential gaps that may need to be addressed.
The USCCB has provided resources and tools that guide designated parish volunteers through a step-by-step process to inventory local resources, assess the results and identify gaps, and plan and implement a parish-based response. The resources include homily helps, suggested prayers, bulletin inserts, pulpit announcements, parish-based activities, communication and outreach suggestions, and more. These resources are designed for ease of use at the parish level, and all the materials are available for FREE download online (in English and Spanish) by visiting www.WalkingWithMoms.com/parish-resources.
To learn how your parish can join other parishes in our Diocese and throughout the country in Walking with Moms in Need, please contact Dr. Shannon Kilbridge, Director of Life Issues for the Diocese of Rochester, at (585) 328-3228, x1218, or Shannon.Kilbridge@dor.org. You can also learn more about this initiative at www.WalkingWithMoms.com.
With my gratitude and an assurance of my continued prayers for you and your parishioners as we continue our efforts to serve the gift of life, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester